This is a false claim that has earned President Trump Four Pinocchios. Former vice president Joe Biden does not support “defunding police,” according to the candidate and the campaign. The phrase generally means shrinking the scope of police responsibilities to public safety and changing the tactics used by police officers. Biden backs advocates’ calls to increase spending on social programs separate from local police budgets, but he also wants more funding for police overhauls such as body cameras and training on community policing approaches.
“No, I don’t support defunding the police,” Biden told CBS. “I support conditioning federal aid to police based on whether or not they meet certain basic standards of decency and honorableness. And, in fact, are able to demonstrate they can protect the community and everybody in the community.” Biden has come under fire from the left for his position and for proposing to spend an additional $300 million a year on the community policing program started in the Clinton administration.
“Joe Biden voted for the Iraq War, which President Trump has long called the worst geopolitical mistake of our generation.”
— Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)
Biden did vote to authorize an invasion of Iraq, which starting in 2005 he said was a mistake. Paul here tries to avoid saying that Trump was also a supporter of the Iraq War and misleadingly suggests he was against it from the start.
Since he started running for president, Trump has claimed he opposed the invasion, but this is one of his signature lies.
We searched high and low — as did other reporters — and there is no evidence Trump was an opponent of the March 2003 invasion of Iraq, let alone a vocal one. In fact, he offered lukewarm support.
When radio host Howard Stern asked whether he supported invading Iraq, Trump replied: “Yeah, I guess so. You know, I wish the first time it was done correctly.”
In another interview, on Fox News two months before the invasion, he said President George W. Bush had to make a decision: “Either you attack, or you don’t attack.” Shortly after the invasion, he again told Fox News, “It looks like a tremendous success from a military standpoint.”
Not until August 2004, in an interview with Esquire, did Trump publicly express opposition to the war. By then — 17 months after the invasion — many Americans had turned against it, making Trump’s position not particularly unique.
“The president lowered the temperature and, against all odds, got North Korean leadership to the table. No nuclear tests, no long-range missile tests, and Americans held captive in North Korea came home to their families, as did the precious remains of scores of our heroes who fought in Korea.”
— Secretary of State Mike Pompeo
It was not difficult for Trump to convince the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un, to attend a summit. Previous presidents would not allow such a meeting, legitimizing the Stalinist government, unless Pyongyang gave up its nuclear weapons programs. Trump imposed no such conditions but made no progress despite participating in three summits.
Experts said Pyongyang continued to improve its nuclear and missile programs. “North Korea has been building new missiles, new capabilities, new weapons as fast as anybody on the planet with the 115th-most powerful economy in the world,” Air Force Gen. John E. Hyten said in January.
Pompeo significantly oversells progress on obtaining the remains of U.S. soldiers. Fifty-five sets of skeletal remains were given to the U.S. military after the first Trump-Kim summit in 2018, but the Pentagon later abandoned efforts to work with North Korea on the issue, saying it had been unable to coordinate with the North Korean army regarding any resumption of joint recovery operations.
“Today, because of the president’s determination and leadership, the ISIS caliphate is wiped out, its evil leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, is dead, and our brave soldiers are on their way home.”
The caliphate built by the Islamic State has been dismantled, but President Trump cannot take all of the credit for its demise. President Barack Obama set up virtually all the structures that did the key fighting against the Islamic State under Trump, and more fighters were trained and munitions dropped under Obama than under Trump.
Under Obama, all Iraqi cities (with the exception of the western half of Mosul) held by the Islamic State — such as eastern Mosul, Fallujah, Ramadi and Tikrit — were retaken by the end of his term, as was much of the northeastern strip of Syria along the Turkish border.
The basic plan of attack in 2017 was also developed under Obama, though Trump sped up the tempo by changing the rules of engagement. Moreover, the loss of physical territory does not mean the group is defeated. Reports estimate that 20,000 to 30,000 Islamic State militants may remain in Iraq and Syria, opposed to 700 when the United States last withdrew. U.S. Central Command warns “absent sustained [counterterrorism] pressure, ISIS could likely resurge in Syria within six to twelve months and regain limited territory.”
Thus while the caliphate has been eliminated, the Islamic State remains a threat. In August, 2019, the Defense Department inspector general warned: “Despite losing its territorial ‘caliphate,’ the Islamic State … solidified its insurgent capabilities in Iraq and was re-surging in Syria. The reduction of U.S. forces has decreased the support available for Syrian partner forces at a time when their forces need more training and equipping to respond to the ISIS resurgence.”
In other words, the Islamic State’s loss of territory does not mean the organization’s end.
“Promises made, and promises, for the first time, were kept.”
— Eric Trump
During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump made more than 280 promises, though many were contradictory or just uttered in a single campaign event. But on Oct. 22, 2016, Trump issued what he called his “Contract with the American Voter.” This was a specific plan of action that would guide his administration, starting from the first day, and listed 60 promises. He even signed it with his distinctive signature.
The Fact Checker has tracked these pledges. As of July 21, Trump has kept 21, broken 26 and compromised on seven.
“We all know about Joe’s son Hunter Biden. A corrupt Ukrainian oligarch put Hunter on the board of his gas company, even though he had no experience in Ukraine or in the energy sector. … That very same company was being investigated by a Ukrainian prosecutor. Joe Biden, the vice president of the United States, threatened to withhold aid to Ukraine unless that same prosecutor was fired. And then he was fired.”
— Former Florida attorney general Pam Bondi
Then-Vice President Joe Biden’s role in Ukraine, and his son’s involvement there, make for a complex story. President Trump and his allies seized on kernels of truth to build an appearance of scandal that resonated with Trump’s supporters and raised questions in some voters’ minds. Trump argued that Biden had demanded a quid pro quo from the Ukrainians, the same charge Democrats lobbed at Trump concerning his pressure on Ukraine to investigate Biden.
But at its core, Trump’s tale, repeated at the convention by Bondi, was a fiction: There had been no prosecution or investigation of Biden’s son Hunter, and Joe Biden’s actions in Ukraine were fully coordinated with the State Department and America’s European allies.
Here’s what really happened: During Obama’s second term, Biden was in charge of the Ukraine portfolio, keeping in close touch with the country’s president, Petro Poroshenko. Biden’s brief was to sweet-talk and jawbone Poroshenko into making reforms that Ukraine’s Western benefactors wanted to see as part of Ukraine’s escape from Russia’s orbit. But the Americans saw an obstacle to reform in Viktor Shokin, the top Ukrainian prosecutor whom the United States viewed as ineffective and beholden to Poroshenko and Ukraine’s corrupt oligarchs.
The U.S. Embassy in Kyiv proposed that Biden, during his 2015 visit, use a pending delivery of $1 billion in loan guarantees as leverage to force reform. Biden addressed the Ukrainian parliament, decrying the “cancer of corruption” in the country and criticizing the prosecutor’s office. During that visit, Biden privately told Poroshenko that the loan guarantees would be withheld unless Shokin was replaced. After repeated calls and meetings between the two men over several months, Shokin was removed and the loan guarantees were provided.
Trump had it completely backward. Biden was thwarting corruption, not abetting it.
But Biden had exaggerated what happened. At a January 2018 Council on Foreign Relations event, he bragged about firing the Ukrainian prosecutor, telescoping the timeline from months of diplomacy into hours. “I’m leaving in six hours,” Biden claimed he had said. “If the prosecutor is not fired, you’re not getting the money. Well, son of a bitch, he got fired.”
As the 2020 presidential campaign heated up, Trump’s allies circulated a video of Biden’s boast, making it appear as if Biden were a shakedown artist.
Meanwhile, in 2014, Hunter Biden had joined the board of Burisma, a Ukrainian natural gas company that was owned by a Ukrainian oligarch, Mykola Zlochevsky. Hunter Biden showed questionable judgment in taking such a position while his father had a high-profile role in U.S.-Ukraine relations, and the possible conflict of interest was well-documented in news reports at the time. Biden had offered U.S. aid to Ukraine to increase its gas production, which could benefit the country’s energy industry.
Contrary to Trump’s theory, there was no probe of Burisma; rather, Ukrainian prosecutors led by Shokin in 2014 opened an investigation of Zlochevsky for alleged illicit enrichment and money laundering. But then Ukrainian prosecutors let the investigations go dormant, angering the U.S. State Department. The U.S. ambassador said in 2015 that mismanagement of the case was an example of Ukraine’s failure to hold corrupt officials to account.
Years after Biden forced the ouster of Shokin, the former prosecutor cried foul, falsely claiming that he was removed because he had had Burisma in his sights — a story he peddled to Trump’s allies.
“Joe Biden flew to China on Air Force Two with Hunter along for the ride. They said he was just there as a family member. But we know that’s untrue. In Beijing, Hunter didn’t just go sightseeing. He had meetings with his Chinese bank partners. Hunter even arranged for his dad to meet with one of the partners. Ten days later, those Chinese communist bankers approved millions to go to Hunter’s firm.”
As part of his campaign against Joe Biden, President Trump consistently targeted Hunter Biden. He shamelessly spun a web of allegations based on flimsy evidence, repeated at the Republican National Convention by Bondi.
Any offspring of a prominent politician needs to be wary of even the appearance of a conflict of interest between the child’s business interests and the parent’s political position. Hunter Biden has led a troubled life, yet he has managed to score big business deals in Ukraine and China that might not have materialized without his father’s prominence. Similarly, Ivanka Trump was granted Chinese trademarks in 2018, days before and after President Trump vowed to save jobs at ZTE, a major Chinese telecommunications company. She also was granted Chinese trademarks in 2017, on the same day she sat next to Chinese President Xi Jinping at a dinner.
President Trump, naturally, chose to focus on Biden’s son, not his own daughter. He claimed that Hunter Biden “made millions of dollars from China” and “took money from China — a lot of money.” He also said that Hunter Biden walked out of China with “$1.5 billion in a fund … after one quick meeting and he flies in on Air Force Two.”
There is no evidence to support those statements, but again Trump exaggerated kernels of truth — just enough to outline a portrait of malfeasance. Interestingly, in her speech, Bondi dialed back the claim from $1.5 billion to “millions.”
In December 2013, Hunter Biden and one of his daughters flew from Japan to China with Joe Biden on Air Force Two as the vice president embarked on a diplomatic mission. Twelve days after arriving in Beijing, Hunter Biden joined an advisory board of a Chinese American fund called BHR Partners, which had announced it would try to raise $1.5 billion for investments outside China. The fundraising apparently fell short of that, but Trump seized on the figure and repeated it at least 30 times.
As far as we could determine, Hunter Biden was not a direct investor in the fund, instead advising those who did invest. George Mesires, a lawyer for Hunter Biden, said the former vice president’s son took an equity stake worth $420,000 in BHR Partners in 2017, after Joe Biden was no longer in the White House. Nevertheless, the New Yorker magazine reported that during the China trip, Hunter Biden arranged for his father to shake hands with Jonathan Li, who ran a Chinese private-equity fund and was a co-founder of BHR. Hunter Biden seemed to trade off his father’s name, and, certainly, arranging a handshake between a potential business partner in China and the vice president raised eyebrows.
After Trump’s frequent attacks, Hunter Biden announced on Oct. 31, 2019, that he had resigned from the BHR board. “Hunter has never made money from this, he departed the board of directors, and he is in the process of divesting his interest,” said a person close to Hunter Biden after Bondi’s remarks.
“I helped the team craft Donald Trump’s economic plan. During the campaign, it was a roaring success, inheriting a stagnant economy on the front end of recession.”
— National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow
Kudlow is wrong to claim that Trump inherited a “stagnant economy” near a recession. In reality, Trump inherited a pretty good economy.
The United States added more than 250,000 jobs each month in 2014 and 227,000 a month in 2015. It added 193,000 a month in 2016, as Trump barnstormed the country saying the economy was in crisis.
In 2017, Trump’s first year in office, monthly job growth slowed to 179,000 per month. It jumped to 223,000 a month in 2018 — lower than under Obama in 2014 and 2015 — and fell back to 175,000 a month in 2019.
When in 2018, Trump proclaimed, twice in the same day, “an economic turnaround of historic proportions,” the United States had been adding jobs for 94 straight months, of which 18 were under Trump’s leadership.
“The program of tax cuts, historic rollback of onerous regulations ... unleashing energy to become the world’s number one producer.”
Kudlow takes too much credit. Since at least 2014, the United States has been the world’s top energy producer. Americans have led in natural gas production since 2009. Crude oil production has been increasing rapidly since 2010. The United States was the leading crude oil producer in 2013, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. The United States became a net exporter of natural gas for the first time in 2017, and exports of crude oil and petroleum products more than doubled from 2010 to 2016. For one week in November 2018, the United States was a net exporter of crude oil. It bears mentioning that the United States lifted restrictions on exporting crude oil in December 2015, while Obama was in office.
“President Trump is the first president in a generation to seek to end war rather than start one. He intends to end the war in Afghanistan. He is bringing our men and women home.”
Despite Paul’s claim, the proof is in the troop numbers. Trump has not made much of a dent in the status quo, despite a 2016 campaign promise to withdraw the United States from foreign conflicts.
As The Washington Post reported, the nearly 200,000 American military personnel who were overseas when Trump took office in 2017 already constituted the smallest number in many decades.
In countries such as Afghanistan, U.S. troops are merely serving as “police,” Trump has argued, while Germany, South Korea and others that could afford to defend themselves are getting U.S. protection on the cheap at taxpayer expense.
But Trump has been stymied at virtually every turn. While there have been some relatively minor shifts in distribution — and since 2017, the Defense Department no longer includes troops in Afghanistan, Syria and Iraq in its unclassified published tallies — the overall total of those serving abroad is believed to have slightly increased since Obama left office.
“He’s a tough, no-nonsense outsider who can’t be bought or intimidated. He won’t even take a paycheck from the American people. He donates his paycheck to charities across this country.”
Trump donates his government salary, but he also makes money from the government by getting reimbursed when Secret Service agents stay at his properties, for example. Several lawsuits allege that Trump violates the foreign emoluments clause of the Constitution when his businesses, such as his Washington hotel near the White House, collect payments from foreign governments. The transactions are difficult to tally, partly because the Trump Organization does not disclose all payments from the Secret Service.
“The American spirit ... soon, under my father’s leadership, it will send Americans to Mars.”
— Eric Trump
Not quite. NASA has spent years preparing a “Journey to Mars” and plans to have astronauts orbiting the planet in the 2030s. Trump has called space travel a priority, and his administration could choose to speed things up, a NASA spokeswoman told us in 2018.
Under Trump, NASA announced plans for the Lunar Orbital Platform-Gateway, which would be built in the 2020s. This is a key step, since astronauts would use this platform orbiting the moon as a testing ground in deep space and then as a hub between Earth and Mars. But the space agency does not expect to have astronauts landing on Mars until the late 2030s at the earliest. (Commercial operators such as SpaceX may get there sooner.)
“The president is fighting to rescue American jobs and industries for places like Ohio, Pennsylvania and Puerto Rico, jobs that were needlessly shipped overseas.”
— Florida Lt. Gov. Jeanette M. Nuñez
Trump asked top advisers in the Department of Homeland Security whether Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, could be sold after it was devastated by Hurricane Maria.
“I brought President Trump an idea for better, cheaper health insurance called Association Health Plans. Donald Trump overturned years of red tape and bureaucrats and made it happen.”
Trump signed an executive order expanding the availability of Association Health Plans, which are geared at small businesses and associations, but the plans are generally considered to be cheaper because they provide skimpier coverage.
These plans are not required to cover the 10 essential benefits that insurance policies under the Affordable Care Act must cover, such as hospitalizations, emergency care and prescription drugs. Health-care experts say insurers selling these plans may limit the services covered, though the plans allow groups of similar businesses to band together to negotiate lower insurance prices for their employees.
“My father, on the other hand, delivered the largest tax cuts in American history.”
— Eric Trump
Yet again this false claim shows up. President Trump’s tax cut amounts to nearly 0.9 percent of the gross domestic product, meaning it is far smaller than President Ronald Reagan’s tax cut in 1981, which was 2.89 percent of gross domestic product. Overall, Trump’s tax cut ranks eighth — and is even smaller than two tax cuts passed under Obama.
“Joe Biden has allowed radicals like AOC to craft his environmental policies. The Green New Deal would put entire swaths of our country out of a job.”
— Eveleth, Minn., Mayor Robert Vlaisavljevich (D)
Biden’s plan on energy and the environment is not as far-reaching as the Green New Deal sponsored by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (N.Y.) and other Democrats.
Biden’s plan calls for “net-zero emissions no later than 2050.” That’s 30 years from now. The Green New Deal operates on a 10-year timeline and includes more stringent energy restrictions and steeper investments in green infrastructure.
Biden’s plan says that “we must look at all low- and zero-carbon technologies,” leaving the door open to carbon capture and other fossil-fuel-based sources.
A unity task force with Biden representatives and advisers to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) recommended that “to reach net-zero emissions as rapidly as possible, Democrats commit to eliminating carbon pollution from power plants by 2035 through technology-neutral standards for clean energy and energy efficiency.” That’s a 15-year timeline — half the time envisioned in Biden’s plan — but for the moment, these are simply recommendations that Biden says he will consider.
Moreover, the “technology-neutral” language gives Democrats some wiggle room. The term encompasses renewable energy such as solar and wind, and nonrenewable sources such as nuclear or carbon capture.
“Whether it’s providing needed relief to farmers who were the target of China’s unfair trade practices, hammering out new free — and fair — trade deals, or fighting for workers and small businesses who were hit hard by covid-19, we have a president and an administration who gets things done.”
— Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds (R)
President Trump has barely shifted the trade landscape for American farmers, and some economists say his trade war with China has made matters worse.
First, Trump imposed tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars’ worth of goods from China, complaining that Asia’s largest economy had been gaming global trade rules and manipulating its currency for years. In retaliation, China reduced purchases of U.S. crops such as soybeans. Then, Trump directed subsidies to American farmers to soften the blow.
The two countries eventually resolved some sticking points in the first phase of a trade deal that took effect in February. But China is lagging far behind in its commitment to purchase $200 billion in agricultural, manufactured and energy products above 2017 levels.
“Today, almost 80 percent of Planned Parenthood abortion facilities are strategically placed in minority neighborhoods.”
— antiabortion activist Abby Johnson
When we looked into this claim in 2015, we wrote:
The available data, from both sources that oppose and favor abortion rights, says this is false.A 2011 report by Life Dynamics, which opposes abortion, used Census data to determine the African-American and Hispanic population of each zipcode where Planned Parenthood has an office. The report was intended to show that the abortion clinics are placed mostly in areas where black residents exceed the average black population of the state.But when you look closely at the data, it turns out that there are only about 110 locations (out of about 800) where the black population exceeds 25 percent of the overall population. That certainly does not support the claim that “most” clinics are in “black neighborhoods.”Separately, in 2011, the Guttmacher Institute surveyed all abortion providers (about 1,700), including Planned Parenthood, and found that 60 percent are in majority-white neighborhoods — and that fewer than one in ten abortion providers are located in neighborhoods where more than half of the residents are black. The statistics did not change when the numbers were adjusted for nearly 600 providers that conduct more than 400 abortions a year.Still, there is clear evidence that blacks are more likely to get an abortion than whites. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that the abortion rate for black women is almost four times higher than for white. The reasons for this disparity are not well understood, though some researchers cite economic issues; the location of abortion clinics does not appear to be a factor.
“On the world stage, President Trump became the first president to talk about the importance of religious freedom at the United Nations, giving hope to people of faith around the world.”
— Cissie Graham Lynch (Billy Graham’s granddaughter)
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